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Paramount Studios presents
Spongebob Squarepants: Tales from the Deep (1999)

"Yes, Chip, I know if it was me out there bagged by an ape, Patrick and Sandy would risk anything to save me."
- Spongebob (Tom Kenny)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: February 10, 2003

Stars: Tom Kenny
Other Stars: Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:51m:12s
Release Date: January 28, 2003
UPC: 097368755543
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-A-B+ B

DVD Review

Spongebob Squarepants: Tales From the Deep is the fourth DVD compilation from Paramount collecting assorted episodes from the popular Nickelodeon cartoon series. This batch, which combines the content from the recent Deep Sea Sillies and Bikini Bottom Bash videos, follows the same pattern as the other Spongebob titles by gathering up a set of ten random episodes from across the show's first three seasons. Technically, though, Tales From the Deep has just nine episodes, but it does include the rarely shown House Party, which actually counts as two.

Never experienced the joy of Spongebob? Here's a quick overview: as his theme song says, the rather nerdy sponge "lives in a pineapple under the sea", in the town of Bikini Bottom, and has a pet snail named Gary. Spongebob's best friends are a thickheaded, but well-meaning starfish named Patrick (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) and a squirrel (outfitted for deep sea diving) from Texas named Sandy Cheeks (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence). His neighbor is a cranky, sarcastic, clarinet-playing squid known as Squidward (voiced by Rodger Bumpass). and who is constantly aggravated by the talkative, innocently-annoying SpongeBob. The little pants-wearing sea sponge is also the lead fry cook at The Krusty Krab, where he has on occasion been known to take his job very seriously.

I can't say enough great stuff about the show, let alone this DVD. The episodes often feature some comically bizarre visuals that make it so entertaining for kids and adults, to say nothing of the equally weird one-liners that have become as quotable as anything from The Simpsons, at least around my house. I'm a huge Spongebob fan, and it's great to have a show that my daughter and I can both look forward to and enjoy that doesn't pander, preach or appear to be anything more than a thinly-veiled merchandise commercial (despite the mind-numbing abundance of Spongebob-related products out there).

Here's how the latest compilation shakes out:

House Party
Season 3
Original Air Date: 05/17/02

This collection starts out with a double episode that features some slapsticky live-action nonsense from the rarely seen Patchy The Pirate (Tom Kenny), who is throwing a big party. The corny live-action stuff bookends a really funny episode entitled Party Pooper Pants, in which Spongebob becomes the anal-retentive host from hell after discovering a Plan Your Own Party Kit. He totes a clipboard with exact times for EVERYTHING ("What's going on? Laughter isn't scheduled until 9:03. You want a party? Throw it on your own time!"), and of course hijinks ensue.

Hall Monitor
Season 1
Original Air Date: 08/28/99

Against the best wishes of his teacher Mrs. Puff, Spongebob is appointed the title of Hall Monitor. He goes on patrol, naturally taking his responsibility to the extreme by monitoring all of Bikini Bottom, and even pretends to be The Masked Maniac in order to teach a couple of fish the danger of leaving their window open. The Masked Maniac then becomes the target of a police dragnet, culminating in a great sequence where Spongebob and Patrick try to track the elusive criminal.

I Had an Accident (aka Safety Freak)
Season 3
Original Air Date: unknown

Butt jokes, those old standbys, abound in this hilarious Season 3 installment when Spongebob is "posterior-ally" injured while sandboarding. He is warned by his doctor that if he's not careful he may end up in an Iron Butt machine, which prompts Spongebob to go on "24 hour butt patrol" to keep his rear end safe. He becomes a Howard Hughes-like recluse, finding demented friendship with a penny (named Penny), a potato chip (named Chip) and a used napkin. This episode includes a weird climax featuring a live-action guy-in-a-gorilla-suit that is surreal and just plain funny as hell.

Valentine's Day
Season 1
Original Air Date: 02/14/00

Spongebob wants to surprise his best friend Patrick with "the greatest Valentine present in the whole world," but this one wouldn't be half as funny if things worked out like they were supposed to. When things go bad, watch for Patrick going into full-blown King Kong crazy mode at the Valentine's Day Carnival, where he wants to destroy everything heart-shaped. For added nuttiness in this slightly homo-erotic episode, Sandy is attacked by chocolate-eating scallops.

Just One Bite
Season 2
Original Air Date: 10/05/01

Squidward has never had a Krabby Patty, and single-minded Spongebob is determined to right that wrong. Lots of funny visuals in this one, including a spooky one where Spongebob, in his best otherwordly voice, tells Squidward that a Krabby Patty is "good for his soul." Squidward eventually goes on a Homer Simpson-esqe eating binge, including licking sand and eating out a garbage can. Excellent!

Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy
Season 1
Original Air Date: 08/21/9921 Aug 99

Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway debuted their semi-recurring characters of former television superheros Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy in this episode. Spongebob and Patrick track them down at the Shady Shoals Rest Home, and accidently convince the slightly senile duo that evil is afoot. The Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy characters have shown up in a few subsequent episodes, but this one is their finest moment. When Spongebob and Patrick paint the superhero's invisible boat black, it never fails to elicit a lot of laughs at my house.

Tea at The Treedome
Season 1
Original Air Date: 07/24/99

Here is one of the funniest Spongebob's of all time, and is also the one that introduced the character of Sandy Cheeks. When he is invited for tea at Sandy's air-filled dome, Spongebob gets really, really dry, really, really quick. He tries to pretend that air is good, but he learns quickly that "air is bad!" This one features the memorable "when in doubt, pinky out" quote that my daughter Sammie uses about every other day, as well as a raspy-voiced Spongebob pretending to enjoy Sandy's waterless world.

The Paper
Season 1
Original Air Date: 02/14/00

Spongebob finds a discarded candy wrapper, and proceeds to have non-stop fun with it, including using it as a cape, a musical instrument, a loin cloth and for making "oral-gami". Squidward becomes insanely jealous, and tries to get it for his own. This is another solid episode, and it showcases a number of rapid-fire, throwaway sight gags that are so typical of the show.

Born Again Krabs (aka A Penny Saved)
Season 3
Original Air Date: unknown

Mr. Krabs (owner of The Krusty Krab) is the focus of the final episode on this disc, which centers on his inherent cheapness. A visit from recurring character/evil ghost The Flying Dutchman forces Mr. Krabs to try and change his ways, but once a cheapskate always a cheapskate. Trivia buffs should take note that in Born Again Krabs, Mr. Krabs first name is revealed to be Eugene. Write that down for future use.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Just like you would see it on Nick, all of the episodes on this collection are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame glory. Colors here are exceptionally bright, and are a noticeable improvement over mediocre cable signals.

Groovy, baby.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is in 2.0 surround, and is well suited for the animated material. Dialogue is crisp, and presented cleanly. Rear channels sound off once in awhile, but the bulk of the action occurs in the fronts. There is some noticeable imaging across the front speakers, but it is minimal at best.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 9 cues and remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Nicelodeon, Tak and Power of JuJu video game
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Underwater Sun music video
Extras Review: Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined Lux Interior of the brilliant hillbilly/horror/rockabilly band The Cramps would ever do a song for a cartoon. But, that's just what happened, as wacky Lux sings lead on the Underwater Sun music video (01m:48s), which also appears in the House Party episode.

Background artist John Sycamore narrates the Drawing the Goo Lagoon segment (02m:01s), which is really much too brief, but allows him the chance to quickly discuss how he creates the background world of Bikini Bottom. Spongebob's House Party storyboards (13m:55s) presents the Party Pooper Pants episode in black & white pencil sketch storyboard format; there are no sound effects or music, only voice work. I'm generally not a big fan of storyboards, but this one was pretty darn fun to watch.

The disc is cut in 9 chapters (one per episode), and does not feature any subtitles. The Play All option allows you to enjoy all 110 minutes in an uninterrupted block.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

You can't go wrong with Spongebob Squarepants, if you ask me. Here's another consistently funny set of episodes, nearly two hours worth of undersea comedy, plus a music video by Cramps lead singer Lux Interior! This is too good for kids...

Even though one of my favorites (Rock Bottom) hasn't found its way onto any of the DVD sets yet, I can't recommend this one enough.

Highly recommended.


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